The Russian nuclear fuel company TVEL will become Vattenfall’s third supplier of nuclear fuel alongside Areva of France and US company Westinghouse. By adding a third supplier, Vattenfall aims to increase its security of supply as well as the competition among the suppliers.
"With TVEL we now have suppliers on three continents, which reduces our business risks as well as our dependence on a single supplier. TVEL is one of the world’s largest nuclear fuel companies and meets all the quality and business requirements we impose on our suppliers," says Per-Olof Nestenborg, Head of Vattenfall Nuclear Fuel.
Business worth SEK 1.2 billion
Altogether, these three suppliers have now signed agreements with Vattenfall for nuclear fuel supplies to a value of SEK 1.2 billion, involving a total of 19 consignments to the nuclear reactors at Ringhals 3 and 4 during the period from 2018 to 2025. TVEL will account for three or four of these consignments, i.e. about a fifth, whereas Areva and Westinghouse will supply the rest of the nuclear fuel elements.
Areva and Westinghouse are already suppliers to Vattenfall since before. In contrast, TVEL, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned company Rosatom, is a new supplier. Vattenfall’s work in evaluating the company has proceeded for several years, both in terms of product quality and good business practices, as well Vattenfall’s code of conduct for its suppliers.
"We have evaluated TVEL on the basis of the same criteria that we use to evaluate all our suppliers. That includes its environmental efforts, work environment, employment rights, corruption and so on.
To this end, we have applied procedures such as physical audits, i.e. on-site inspections. TVEL has been very transparent and open at all times and has clear routines and rules. It also has a great interest in being able to access Western markets and is therefore willing to learn and adapt to our European ways of working," says Nestenborg.
Vattenfall’s plans to buy Russian nuclear fuel have been discussed in a political context even before the contract was signed. This relates above all to the concern that Russia may be able to use these fuel supplies to apply political pressure on Sweden.
"Vattenfall’s primary concern is to ensure the business viability and strategic utility of the deal. By having three suppliers of nuclear fuel to Ringhals, we assure our independence. The agreement creates the preconditions for the secure and stable economic operation of Ringhals into the 2020s," says Nestenborg.
During 2016 a cooperative agreement was also set up between US company GE (General Electric) and TVEL whereby GE will manufacture fuel under licence for the US market.
Vattenfall’s agreement has been examined and approved by the Euratom Supply Agency ESA as well as by the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA.